Since Level 1 is the lowest CMMI level, technically you just start there. But, the truth is you do need to be successful at development to be at this “ad hoc” level.
Level 1 is characterized by working hard to be successful. Your organization isn’t using a repeatable process, doesn’t use common practices across the company and doesn’t really seek to improve.
What does it take to “reach” level 1?
A chaotic environment – This is an environment which has no standards or common practices.
Ad Hoc – This is the result of the chaos inherent in a level 1 environment. Each developer operates in their own silo and their work is a one-off effort.
Heroic Effort – Success is because of the strong capabilities and heroic effort of superstars. Nothing seems easy and there are no 8 hour days.
Level 1 is more than a starting point, but lacks the maturity of a well-oiled machine.
What, then, does a level 2 organization have that a level 1 organization lacks?
Repeatable processes like agile development, measurements and analysis.